Jasper County has called for an outside auditor to go through the files of the county public administrator’s office from the tenure of Rita Hunter.

It was the right call, no doubt, given allegations that Hunter mishandled some accounts of wards of the county, then erased computer files and took office files containing wards’ medical, financial and personal information when she left office in December.

Those files are now back in the county prosecutor’s office.

On top of the hiring of an outside auditor, the office of public administrator, now under Angie Casavecchia, has hired an additional person for the sole purpose of copying files to provide the information that the public administrator needs to do daily business.

Those costs come at a time when the county is already tightening its belt. Sales-tax revenues are down, and raises have been scuttled for 2009 for county workers. Now, more taxpayer money will have to be found to pay for the outside audit and for the additional worker who is copying files.

And, while we are talking about costs, how about the costs being borne by almost 300 county wards? Some of them have been without money for nearly three months. Casavecchia said her office is now trying to figure out how much is owed.

Many of those wards need that money for rent, to pay utilities or to buy medicine. Try going without a paycheck for three months. That’s exactly what has happened to some of these wards of the county whose finances are under the control of the administrator’s office.

The costs of this case have far-reaching tentacles indeed.

We believe a policy is needed that will make audits a routine matter before any county officeholder leaves his or her post. Every officeholder should be held accountable. In fact, they should welcome the scrutiny.

Yes, audits are conducted annually on a number of funds overseen by Jasper County.

That oversight should extend to all the books.

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